My wife and I were down in the Garden District of New Orleans (pre Katrina) and we were Geocaching in a small park in between two parallel running roads. It was a sunny, well-lit day but our search for the object of our desire was not to be found. The cache was well hidden. We found a large red spider in her web in between bricks where our GPS was telling us to look but other than that – nothing.
New Orleans was/is a vibrant part of the world – there is always something happening. That’s part of the joy of the city. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a guy on a bike riding down the side of the road peddling toward whatever destination awaited him. I didn’t pay much attention since I was still looking for the cache. Suddenly a car turns around the corner and speeds up. The driver of said car sticks his head out of the driver’s window and screams “Get out of my way nigger!” He then bravely sped away from the scene of the incident. The guy on the bike was frustrated; he shook his head and kept on peddling. What else was there to do? Meanwhile, my wife and I just stood with our jaws agape. We didn’t believe what we just witnessed. This was the twenty first century – that sort of thing is a part of the past! Right? Was this a litmus test of southern racial tension or just a simple reminder to a couple from New Jersey that there most certainly is still trouble in the paradise of modern life here in the United States?
Blind hatred really has no bounds or boarders. Since it really lacks any type of moral compass divisions such as North and South don’t really do it any justice. I’m not just talking White verses Black or Black verses White – no one race has any corner of the market when it comes to hatred. It is what it is and you move on. I find it next to impossible to discuss any topic in any depth with someone whose mind has been made up. I teach my children the importance of treating others the way that they want to be treated, no matter what their skin tone is. It is irrelevant. “Do unto others,” is one of the most basic tenants of my faith. We never did find that cache in the park and decided that it would be better to move along.
I still think of that day and I realize that I am one of those naïve white guys who believed that, for the most part, blatant hatred is a thing of the past. After all, this is the twenty-first century. I’m pleased and happy to believe this since it fits quite nicely into my white guy existence. I’d like to believe that we are moving forward and that there are equal opportunities for anyone who would take advantage of them. Times have changed – right? We have come some distance but there is still so very far to go. Perhaps it just comes down to fear? It could be fear of the unknown, the unfamiliar; fear of losing control over one’s own environment or of being subjugated; fear of being threatened, mistreated and hurt emotionally or physically; maybe even destroyed, I don’t know. Perhaps recognition of ones own fear is key – no matter what shade of the rainbow ones pigmentation is. Will blind hatred ever be eradicated? No. But it can be seen and understood for what it is – identified so that it can be treated and we can all move on.
I cannot speak for Michael Richard but it seems that his fear got the best of him – right here in the twenty-first century.